During the switch from apartheid to democracy, it was proven that it is easier to get a democracy and that economics are much more complicated. Seventeen years on and the legacy of the apartheid era is still present in South Africa. The country is still struggling with inequality and high unemployment.
There is a need for a document/plan that seeks a ‘restructuring’ of the South African economy to increase performance in terms of labour absorption. A plan that makes it the government’s responsibility to look into where employment creation is possible, and to analyse policies and institutions to take advantage of these opportunities.
During Prof. Parson’s presentation, two main documents were discussed: the New Growth Path and the National Development Plan.
It can be said that the NDP is essentially a ‘developmental vision from national government’ that aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by the year 2030. The NDP is a 484 page document and it analyses current problems in South Africa and provides solutions and recommendation to the government on tackling some of the most pressing needs. It touches on several economic problems that South Africa is faced with and is centred on five core pillars: economic development, infrastructure investment, rural development, environmental sustainability and human settlements. The development plan therefore does not focus purely on economic interventions. To successfully implement the National Developmental Plan, vast and dedicated political capital is required which several studies show South Africa does not have.
Institutions are crucial and important and the strength of the NGP is that it addresses institutional difficulties. A top priority of the National Growth Plan is job creation and the main goal of the NGP is to create 5 million jobs by 2020. It can be said that the NGP is a bible for a developmental state. South Africa is currently not in a position to be able to implement and run as a successful developmental state due to several factors. There are several structural and institutional problems due to inefficient government bureaucracy, inadequately educated workforce, restrictive labour regulations, corruption, crime, and an inadequate supply of infrastructure.
Marikana provided an illustration of why South Africa needs a national development plan. The Marikana incident indicated the current inequality, inadequate and brutal policing, and the division within the unions in South Africa. The Marikana incident has also brought on criticism for the ANC – their incompetent mismanagement and their inability to execute their promises was challenged.
Over the years there have been numerous plans revised to tackles the problems in South Africa. The problem does not lie with South African policies, but with the implementation of the plans. According to the Minister for Planning in the Presidency, Trevor Manuel, all South Africans need to work together with government, business and civil society to make the plan a reality. According to the President it is important for everyone to give input and to make the plan their own.
South Africa is struggling with institutional problems. The NGP and the NDP are the correct plans needed to unlock South Africa’s economic potential, but because the government is not delivering, the country is lacking in what is needed to achieve the goals of the plans of the two latest documents.